Afridi steers Pakistan to victory over Sri Lanka

Green Shirts win by three wickets to take 1-0 lead over Sri Lanka in T20 UAE series

By Moni Mathews

Published: Fri 13 Dec 2013, 12:22 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 8:01 AM

Dashing Shahid Afridi with an unbeaten 39 from 20 balls including three 6s, and two 4s, steered Pakistan to a three-wicket victory over visitors Sri Lanka late on Wednesday night, in the first T20 fixture of Pakistan’s UAE-based home series.

Afridi (1-20 from 4 overs), the Man of the Match, also had a hand in restricting the islanders to 145-5 in the allotted 20 overs. Pakistan replied with a 146-7 in 19.1 overs in a match that saw 19-year-old rookie left arm pacer Usman Khan (1-9 from 1 over) making his debut for Pakistan.

Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal said: “We bowled a lot in the loose areas and our fielding initially was not up to the mark. We were definitely 10-15 runs short plus we ran into Afridi who touched form at the right time for Pakistan. Pakistan have an advantage over us at this moment. We have hardly played games after the lean season unlike Pakistan who have been continuously engaged abroad the past many months.”

The sparse crowd at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in the Dubai Sports City complex had plenty to cheer as the two sides fought a well contested game.

The second T20 clash in this two-team series is slotted for Friday, December 13 at the same venue — first ball — 8pm.

Pakistan who chose to field after winning the toss, had their usual hiccups while batting when they slipped from a comfortable position to struggle momentarily before the Afridi show began.

Afridi said: “I have got used to the severe criticisms the past two decades regarding my game when I do not deliver. Recently it has been about hanging for too long. If I am able to perform and assist my team well, I have no worries.” Lanka’s Angelo Mathews’ 10th over proved a turning point as the prolific skipper Mohammad Hafeez hammered the medium pace of the Sri Lankan allrounder for a 6 and a four to take Pakistan (67-1) to within 79 runs of the victory target from the remaining 55 balls.

Pakistan soon suffered a rude shock when Tillakaratne Dilshan brought off a spectacular one handed diving catch off Thisara Perera’s bowling to place the Green shirts at 76-2 in 10.3 overs. This was the wicket of the dangerous looking opener Sharjeel Khan (34 from 31 balls). Hafeez (32 from 27 balls) was surprised by a shooter from spinner Anjantha Mendis to be plumb in front, reducing his side to 76-3 from 11.3 overs. Akmal’s fall (76-4 after 11.4 overs) caused serious damage in the Pakistani camp.

Umar Akmal was run out, rather unluckily at the non-striker’s end when the ball went off the bowler’s hand to the bottom of the stumps while trying to stop a straight drive.

Pakistan landed in the trouble zone (96-5 from 14.1 overs) when Umar Amin was caught by Chandimal off a sling shot canon ball from Lasith Malinga, who had final figures of 3-26 from the maximum 4 overs allotted to a bowler.

Pakistan had 30 balls left to gather for the remaining 43 runs and with Afridi around, a win always looked a possibility.

Hafeez said: “The mixture of experience and youth has slowly started to yield results. We have a plan sorted out from the various possibilities available. I am glad that our team, especially the newcomers are learning fast from the experience of playing top grade cricket continuously.”

Earlier Mathews who hit a superb 50 off 34 balls shared fruitful partnerships with former captain Kumar Sangakkara (21 off 22 balls) and Lahiru Thirimanne (23no from 16) to take the islanders to a challenging total.

After the fall of openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (7) and Kusal Perera (15 off 16) who reminded us slightly of the dashing left hander and former Lanka great, Sanath Jayasuriya, the middle order got the right tonic from allrounder Mathews who clubbed one 6 and spanked four neatly timed 4s, to neutralise the early advantage gained by Hafeez and his Green brigade.

Mathews when on 36 was dropped by Hafeez at deep cover when the Pakistani skipper failed to latch on to a high elevation flyball after Tanvir had sent in a short pitched delivery. The score at that moment read 120-7 (17.4 overs).

Jamshed, Amin axed for ODIs

Pakistan left out opener Nasir Jamshed and middle-order batsman Umar Amin from their 15-man squad for the five-match one-day series against Sri Lanka starting in Sharjah from Wednesday.

Jamshed and Amin were part of the squad which beat South Africa 2-1 away last month — Pakistan’s first-ever win against the Proteas. The 24-year-old Jamshed scored two and 24 in the two matches he played of the series while Umar Amin made 25 in his only appearance.

Squad: Misbah-ul Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Sharjeel Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Junaid Khan, Anwar Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Bilawal Bhatti. — AFP

Today’s match

(UAE Time) Pakistan v Lanka - (8pm)

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